How Do You Use Boswell?

You suddenly get a bright idea about X, that thing you have always been meaning to write about. What do you do now without Boswell? Fire up a huge word processor and wait for it to load. Think of a name for the file and navigate to exactly the right folder on your hard drive to contain it. Now you get to type in your idea -- if you remember it. Six months from now when you finally have some time to work on X, how many of your bright ideas for it will you be able to find? How many did you even bother to type in?

What about articles about X that you read on the Web? How will you find them later? You might have an easier time finding an e-mail about X, but how will you see the e-mails and the articles and the bright ideas all together? How will you combine them for a first draft? How will you find something in an early draft that you tossed out a while back but is just what you need now?

And years from now when you are writing about Y, how will you ever find that note you made long ago about the relationship between X and Y -- particularly if you have long since forgotten that you have even made such a note?

With Boswell, you do not have these problems. You have just one library for yourself to contain all the text that ever interested you from whatever source. It is like a computerized extension of your own memory.

One of us once studied photography. In a class a student said that he often had trouble deciding whether to take a picture or not when something caught his eye in the street. He asked the teacher what he should look for to help him decide. The teacher replied that film was cheap and that he should always take the picture. There would be plenty of time in the lab to decide if it was worth printing, but the moment when the picture could be taken would never come again.

It is much the same with Boswell: you no longer have to decide whether something is worth preserving or not because now it is so easy to preserve it. Whether it is a bright idea, or an interesting article, or an e-mail, anything that triggers a "this might be useful someday" thought, just throw it into your library. If it ever proves useful, you will find it again.

Yes, you can do research and create documents with Boswell, but you can also track of your life: relationships, tasks communications. Because you can sort entries chronologically, everything becomes part of a huge personal diary. Because you can group the same entries by topic, you wind up building your own personal encyclopedia too.

You can ask questions and find stuff like you never could before.

  • Have I already used the word "grandiose" in the draft of an earlier chapter?
  • Fill an empty notebook with everything in the Fred notebook from the last two months that references the Contraption project and contains the words "problems" or "difficulties."
  • Did I already write an answer to this question in some earlier e-mail?
  • It's Monday morning and I am trying to get focused: show me everything I created on Friday afternoon in chronological order.

Those are the sort of tasks Boswell was built for.


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